Long-term memory in older children/adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder

Diane L. Williams, Nancy J. Minshew, Gerald Goldstein, Carla A. Mazefsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


This study extends prior memory reports in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) by investigating memory for narratives after longer recall periods and by examining developmental aspects of narrative memory using a cross-sectional design. Forty-seven older children/adolescents with ASD and 31 youth with typical development (TD) and 39 adults with ASD and 45 TD adults were compared on memory for stories from standardized measures appropriate for each age group at three intervals (immediate, 30 min, and 2 day). Both the youth with and without ASD had difficulty with memory for story details with increasing time intervals. More of the youths with ASD performed in the range of impairment when recalling the stories 2 days later as compared to the TD group. The adults with ASD had more difficulty on memory for story details with increasing delay and were poorer at recall of thematic information (needed to create a gist) across the three delay conditions as compared to the TD group. Analyses of the individual results suggested that memory for details of most of the adults with ASD was not impaired when applying a clinical standard; however, a significant percentage of the adults with ASD did not make use of thematic information to organize the narrative information, which would have helped them to remember the stories. The youth with and without ASD performed similarly when both were at a stage of development when memory for details is the primary strategy. The adults with ASD had difficulty with use organizational strategies to support episodic memory. Autism Res 2017, 10: 1523–1532.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1523-1532
Number of pages10
JournalAutism Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Genetics(clinical)

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